By Rebecca Henely
The driver in the Long Island City crash near LaGuardia Community College that killed a 16-year-old boy Monday was allegedly driving without insurance, the NYPD said.
The motorist lost control of his minivan and hit five people standing on the sidewalk near the corner of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street, police said. Authorities identified the teen who died as 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak. The four other people struck in the collision have been listed in stable condition at Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said.
“It’s just real messed up is the only way to describe it,” said 21-year-old LaGuardia Community College student Jason Martinez, who witnessed the accident. “Because it could have been anyone, it could have been me.”
The Wall Street Journal identified the driver as Mohamed Keita, 36, of Charlotte, N.C.
Police said Keita had been going eastbound on Thompson Avenue in the 2002 maroon Dodge Caravan at 10:30 a.m. when he hit the five pedestrians, who were standing near the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street or Skillman Avenue.
The vehicle struck a pole with a sign for the Q39 bus and came to a stop at a tree. The front of the car was crumpled in the crash and the windshield cracked over the passenger side of the minivan.
LaGuardia student Makeva Francis, 40, said she saw the car go airborne before it struck the pedestrians. She said Tenzin was hit in the head by the car.
“It was the worst thing I ever saw in my whole entire life,” she said.
LaGuardia student Ahmed Abdelghani, 26, said he believed Keita was trying to turn from Thomson Avenue onto Skillman Avenue. He said the intersection is a hot spot for pedestrians, since it is a stop for the Q39 bus and across from LaGuardia Community College’s B Building, at 30-20 Thomson Ave., which includes several schools.
The pedestrians, including Tenzin, were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. Tenzin was later pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.
An NYPD spokesman said Keita received a summons charging him with driving without insurance.
Tenzin attended Applied Communications High School, which is in the B Building, a spokeswoman from the city Department of Education said in an e-mail.
“We are arranging for a crisis team to offer counseling to students and staff at the school,” the spokeswoman said.
Susan Lyddon, a spokeswoman for LaGuardia, said the other four victims were students at the college.
Police cordoned off the area around the accident Monday morning and shut down westbound traffic on Thomson Avenue from Van Dam Street to Skillman Avenue. Several LaGuardia students watched while 108th Precinct and School Safety officers investigated the scene.
“I put myself in the same situation,” said Abdelghani. “It would be like a nightmare to me.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.